On Friday afternoon, the New York State Public High School Athletics Association (NYSPHSAA) came out with regulations for the number of pitches a pitcher can throw in a game and how many days’ rest required for the amount thrown.
This has been a raging issue for years throughout amateur baseball, and it’s good to see the state stepped up to the plate and made these regulations. They are keeping players’ futures in good shape to play in college and maybe even professionally, and even more importantly, they will be keeping players and teams healthy, increasing the likelihood a team will have a full pitching staff come sectional time in mid-May.
This could partly be in response to Schalmont’s Chris Hamilton throwing an absurd 138 pitches in a regional game against Plattsburgh in Ballston Spa last June. He pitched again just nine days later in the state tournament. That was inexcusable.
Even worse, I saw a tweet today from somebody saying that a friend of his once threw 180 pitches in a high school game.
Dr. James Andrews, well known for his expertise in sports-related injuries, has said that high school pitchers should not be throwing more than 90 pitches in a game as their arms are not fully developed yet.
Now with the new NYSPHSAA regulations, the limit during the regular season is 105 pitches, and 125 during the playoffs with four nights of rest following it. Hopefully, coaches will not have to break it or get close to it often.
For those arguing that small schools will struggle with these new rules because they have a smaller pitching staff, you are correct. They will struggle this season and seasons following that, which is why, to start, I propose this; trim a few games from the season. You don’t have to pull many, anywhere between three and five will suffice. I’m sure most coaches wouldn’t mind pulling a few non-league games if it meant keeping their pitchers healthy for the entire season.
In addition to this, I propose something else; establish a mercy rule, say 10 runs after four-and-a-half innings if the home team is winning, five innings if the visiting team is winning. I’ve been to a handful of games that had gotten out of hand very quickly. I once saw a team score 16 runs in the first two innings of a game. It also happened to be a non-league game and the final game before sectionals started, so I don’t think either coach would have minded calling the game a few innings early to preserve pitching.
For NYSPHSAA, these changes are a great start, but there’s still more work to be done.